Did you know that May is National Barbecue month? Have you fired up the grill yet?
Alyson Lupinetti, from Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, is the reigning Barbecue Champ at Rock, Ribs and Ridges. Last year, Alyson became the first female pit master -- and the youngest -- to win the Rib Cook-off at the annual concert event. She's the daughter of legendary pit master Butch Lupinetti, and she'll be defending her title next month at the Ninth Annual Rock Ribs and Ridges Festival, June 23rd and 24th, at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta. (This year, Foghat, the Outlaws and Travis Tritt will play the event. You can get but tickets and get more info here.)
So for grillin' lovers in northern New Jersey, here are some indispensable grillin' tips from the champ herself:
1) Good meat ain’t cheap and cheap meat ain’t good. Aly buys St. Louis-style ribs from U.S.-produced hogs. The rack of ribs will weigh about 2½ pounds, preferably trimmed from the butcher.
2) Before you smoke the ribs, you may want to remove the membrane on the back of the rack of ribs. Use a knife to start the separation of the membrane from the meat and pull off the rest of the membrane using a towel to get a better hold.
3) Rub the meat side of the ribs with your favorite dry seasoning rub.
4) Place the ribs in your smoker at 225-250 degrees. It’s important to maintain a low temperature during the cooking process. The ribs should take 4–4½ hours cooking time. If you don’t have a smoker, you can cook the ribs in the oven. Put the ribs on a rack over a pan of water (about 1 inch of water). Set the oven temperature to 225 degrees.
5) Take a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, soak some wood chips (we like hickory), wrap them up real good and poke some holes in the top of your foil and then put them on your fire or coals (or water pan in the oven). Now you're smokin'! Don't be looking or you won’t be cooking! Just let them smoke. When ribs are tender and pulled back from the bone about ¼-inch, then and only then, is when you sauce them.
6) Move the rack of ribs to a grill, hot as you can get it, bone side down. Sauce the top using a mop or brush. When your ribs get bubbly, not burnt, flip them. Sauce the other side until it bubbles. Do not put the lid down during this process. Stay with your meat and watch it closely. This should take 3-5 minutes total. Remove from grill, cut into individual bones, and enjoy!